By MR Lalu
Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister then, when he sat on a 72 hour long fast to promote harmony, peace and unity. In the event Modi was seen cautiously refusing a skullcap that a Maulana tried to mount on his head. But he graciously accepted the shawl from Maulavi Sayed Imam. The Chief Minister with his political shrewdness could have placed the cap on his head and posed for the cameras with a wide grin on his face but he knew that was not only safe but also a betrayal to the ideology he worked for decades. This audacity of Modi separates him from other leaders across India’s political spectrum and to read from the history of his party, he knew the repercussions of the mistake that former Deputy Prime Minister L.K.Advani faced soon after he returned from Pakistan. The veteran offered a chadar to Jinnah’s mausoleum and eulogized the founder of Pakistan as “secular” and an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. Modi preferred to avoid an act that could have brought serious dissatisfaction among his party men and his ideological alma mater the RSS.
The Godhra riot was not only a turning point but a talisman in his political career. Modi was unstoppable from the very day he assumed the office of the state administration. Probably, he maintained this ideological commitment throughout his career while leaders from other parties played the game of chameleons. From his initiatives of revamping the Hindu spiritual centers to his espousing the national heroes, all that he did was to showcase his nationalistic ideological commitment to a population that he trusted and knew would stand by him in any given situation. Undoubtedly, this is true and the leader in him remained always unapologetic about it.
Predictably, Modi was destined to take his journey to Delhi and the Sadbhavana event at his state capital was sending mild tremors of his being the potential choice for the top job. Raj Thackeray while visiting Modi hailed him as the most suitable person to become the Prime Minister of India. Almost a year to culminate his second term as the Prime Minister, his political opposition across the country realized that the man from the western shore of India is more capable than anybody from the Lutyens’ corridors in Delhi and this is an undeniable truth. Though immoral, their gathering to muster up courage to sharpen their weapons against Modi is a collective effort, which is their last attempt to consolidate relevance in Indian politics before 2024. I call it immoral because their intention particularly focuses on one person with whom they know their tactics of survival have failed miserably. Their regrouping is the gathering of depressed minds and dismantling the Modi fiefdom is their exclusive objective.
Embarrassment never ends. A parliament without Modi would give the opposition some dreamy giggles. But none among the INDIA grouping holds the courage to declare or to spell out reasons that would become instrumental in unseating Modi. Actually, there hasn’t been any reason that they could dig out against him. Their trepidation over the investigative agencies probing corruption charges against them holds the key to their unprincipled alignment. Manipur violence and the Prime Minister’s prolonged silence could be abysmally used as a subject of ruckus in the parliament. With the government’s willingness to debate the Manipur barbarity extensively in the parliament comes its commitment. But the opposition’s stubborn outcry for the Prime Minister’s statement seems to be getting feeble and dizzy. Their selective outrage and whataboutery expose the duplicity of their unity. But nothing would give the state government and its supporting engine at the centre a clean chit. The world watched the horror and we need to hold ourselves responsible for this human error and the Prime Minister’s silence does not send justifiable signals to people.
For a disheveled opposition, the parliament logjam is a strategy. They think their tomfoolery would be enough to shake the Modi fiefdom. Coalition is a game of possibilities and trying to play their cards sensibly, both NDA and INDIA are all set to extract the best out of their alliances. Undoubtedly, Manipur is a challenge to the Modi administration, a challenge that the world is eagerly watching and reading in sentences and paragraphs. Probably in the last nine years of his holding the office, Modi must have realized the criticality and uniqueness of the challenge that Manipur is posing. He was seen confidently decreeing and making statements on his major decisions such as the demonetization and the nationwide crackdown on the PFI. He was well balanced with his historic abrogation of the article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on the track. Don’t forget, it did not take much when he decided to erase the sin of Triple Talaq. But the ethnic rivalry in the tiny state of Manipur has confined his conscience in an abysmal den. The brutal manhunt by outrageous crowds in the state did not spare children and women as thousands became homeless and the televised horror of women being paraded naked had generated anger across the country.
Modi is usually evocative on the possibilities of a double engine mechanism, which he calls would bring the best result for the state. But this balancing act could not dilute animosity and acrimony between the two communities in Manipur. The state government’s inaction and the Prime Minister’s successive silence are under fire as the horrendous bloodbath and conflagration crippled the state completely. This could be seen as an occasion that had dented his sheen. If the opposition parties are genuinely calling for an armistice, they should delve into the factors that are historically waiting for a settlement and the present outrage between the warring communities should be seen as a tremor that was in the offing. Would the Manipur imbroglio stop Modi from a soft landing in 2024? This is quite unlikely and the I.N.D.I.A gathering of the opposition should go beyond Manipur and explore issues that they could formally use to unseat the world’s most popular political personality. When the Godhra violence erupted, Modi was a beginner; he then had the severest of media trials and faced harsh diplomatic reactions from big countries. Everybody thought he was going to vanish from the power corridors of his state but he returned more powerfully. As the Manipur violence bursts into flames, Modi is at a significant juncture of his career. He is known to be the architect of a modern India that the world began to look at with hope. The man from India’s western shore is a man with capital M and that should worry his opposition and make them wearier. What separates him from the rest of the leaders is the firm stance he takes on various issues. When tiny Manipur burns, could his soothing ruminations in the parliament have sent feelers of compassion, inclusion and solution?
(Author is freelance journalist and social worker based in Kerala. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author.)